Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore who led the nation for 30 years, has died on March 23 at the age of 91. He is known as the founding father of modern Singapore and the “Architect of Modern Singapore.”
Lee headed the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 and had since brought the nation to be as economically prosperous as it is today.
Mr. Lee’s health had deteriorated in the recent years. In 2010, he was confined in a hospital for chest infection. In 2013, he was hospitalized for the same ailment. In February 5, 2015, he was rushed once more to a hospital for severe pneumonia and was put on ventilator for more than a month.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has confirmed Lee’s demise. He died peacefully morning of March 23 at the Singapore General Hospital at 3:18am, Singapore’s office of the prime minister said in a statement.
“We have lost the man who had led us, inspired us, and united us. As we mourn Mr Lee’s passing, let us also honour his spirit and his life’s work. Let us continue building Singapore, strengthening our multi-racial and multi-religious society, and standing together as one united people, something which he had fought for, all his life,” the prime minister said in a statement.
The prime minister declared a period of National Mourning from March 23 to March 29. State flags on all Singaporean government buildings will be flown at half-mast from Monday to Sunday, March 29. A private family wake will be held from 23 March (Monday) to 24 March (Tuesday) at Sri Temasek.
The public can pay respects to Mr. Lee at Singapore’s Parliament House from March 25 to March 28. The State Funeral Service will be held at 2 pm on 29 March (Sunday) at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore.
World Leaders Mourn Lee’s Death
President Barack Obama said he was deeply saddened with the death of whom he called the Minister Mentor. He described Lee as a visionary, a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader. He said Lee’s views and insights on economic management were renowned by world leaders.
“On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man. Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development,” Obama said in a statement.
“I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific. He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs,” Mr. Obama said.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said Mr. Lee’s leadership made Singapore one of the world’s most prosperous nations, a financial powerhouse and one of the world’s easiest places to do business.
“Our region owes much to Lee Kuan Yew. Here in Australia and beyond, leaders sought and learned from his wise counsel. As Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew enjoyed close relationships with successive Australian Prime Ministers and worked with them to establish the strong partnership that Singapore and Australia have today,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement.
“At every stage, Australia and Singapore have stood shoulder to shoulder. We continue to do so today, as we salute one of the significant leaders of our time. On behalf of the Australian Government and people, I extend my condolences to Mr Lee’s family and to the people of Singapore,” Abbott continued.
UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron had also expressed his sadness for the passing of Mr. Lee. He said Lee was always a friend to Britain and many British prime ministers had benefited from his wisdom.
“Lady Thatcher once said that there was no Prime Minister she admired more than Mr Lee for ‘the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and his vision of the way ahead’. His place in history is assured, as a leader and as one of the modern world’s foremost statesmen,” Mr. Cameron said in a statement.
New Zealand prime minister John Key described Mr. Lee as a man with rare qualities, courage, determination, commitment, character who had showed respect to the Singaporeans as well as the international community.
“I had the honour of meeting Mr Lee in 2007 during his last official visit to New Zealand. He was well known for his insights and foresight but what struck me most was his unwavering determination to see Singapore succeed. A powerful advocate for the region and supportive of New Zealand’s role in South East Asia and the wider world, Mr Lee was a close and long-time friend of New Zealand,” Mr. Key said in a statement.
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